With all of the rip current warnings lately, along with the initial influx of tourists for the summer, I am still able to enjoy the beach with my boys in peace.

Not wanting to fight the crowds and struggle to find a parking space, especially on days when the rip currents are bad and the lifeguards say it's dangerous to swim, the kids and I have found another way to enjoy the beach.

On a clear, warm evening...on a day when it's light out 'til late...we bring a picnic dinner to the beach. We arrive just as the masses are leaving. It still absolutely amazes me that this beautiful ocean and warm sand are practically abandoned by dinnertime. We are able to spread a blanket and sit around it as a family eating our picnic dinner, talking and relaxing to the sounds and smells of the sea. We feel the tension leave us as we inhale the ocean and watch the boats go by. And the sky and sea are sometimes so vivid and clear that you can see for miles.

This picture, by the way, is of Benji with his OgoSport frisbee/mini trampoline. He and Christopher each have one and it bounces these little fringed balls way up high into the sky. Hours of fun if you bring them to a place where the kids can run free and the balls won't land in a tree or on a rooftop. They also serve as frisbees...another great sport for an empty beach where you can run far and wide.

Sure on a nice summer day we'll fight the crowds to get to the beach during peak swimming and sunning hours, but for now I pull out my beach chair and watch my boys romp through the sand, soft breeze blowing through their hair. And I am grateful for  how lucky we are to live at the Jersey Shore.